[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 31 (Wednesday, February 15, 2012)]
[Pages 8892-8894]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-3491]



Fish and Wildlife Service

National Park Service

[FWS-R6-R-2011-N211; FXRS1265066CCP0S2-123-FF06R06000]

Detailed Planning To Consider Additional Land Protection on the 
Missouri River From Fort Randall Dam to Sioux City, IA; National 
Environmental Policy Act Documents

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Interior.

[[Page 8893]]

ACTION: Notice of intent; request for comments.


SUMMARY: This notice advises the public that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (FWS) and the National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Department of 
the Interior, as lead agencies, intend to gather information necessary 
to complete detailed planning and prepare associated documents under 
the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its implementing 
regulations, in order to consider additional land protection on the 
Missouri River from Fort Randall Dam to Sioux City, Iowa. The FWS and 
NPS are furnishing this notice in compliance with the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Administration Act of 1966, as amended, and the National 
Park Service Organic Act of 1916, as amended, to advise other agencies, 
Tribal governments, and the public of our intentions and to obtain 
suggestions and information on the scope of issues to include in the 
environmental documents. Special mailings, newspaper articles, and 
other media announcements will inform people of the opportunities for 
input throughout the planning process.

DATES: We are soliciting written comments and will hold public scoping 
meetings in February 2012. Information on meeting dates and times will 
be available at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/niob-ponca when that 
information is available.

ADDRESSES: Send your comments or requests for more information by any 
of the following methods.
    Email: niobrara_ponca@fws.gov.
    U.S. Mail: Nick Kaczor, USFWS, Division of Refuge Planning, P.O. 
Box 25486, DFC, Denver, CO 80225.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Nick Kaczor, Planning Team Leader, 
Division of Refuge Planning, USFWS, P.O. Box 25486, DFC, Denver, CO 



    With this notice, the FWS and NPS, as lead agencies, propose to 
complete detailed planning on a joint comprehensive conservation 
strategy and land protection plan (LPP) for the Niobrara Confluence and 
Ponca Bluffs areas of the Missouri River in southeast South Dakota and 
northeast Nebraska aimed to improve floodplain management. The LPP 
would develop a proposal for a comprehensive conservation strategy, 
including a plan aimed at enhancing wildlife habitat, increasing 
recreational opportunities, and improving floodplain management within 
the study area, by working with willing landowners to strategically 
protect land through acquisition and conservation easements.
    The Niobrara Confluence segment between Fort Randall Dam and Lewis 
and Clark Lake is one of the last portions of the middle Missouri River 
that remain un-channelized, relatively free-flowing, and undeveloped. 
This area of the Missouri River's main channel in the old, wider river 
valley contains important habitat for at least 60 native and 26 sport 
fish. In addition, the riparian woodlands and island complexes are 
important for approximately 25 year-round bird species and 115 species 
of migratory birds, including piping plovers, least terns, and bald 
    The Ponca Bluffs segment between Gavins Point Dam and Sioux City is 
a diverse, relatively unaltered, riverine/floodplain ecosystem 
characterized by a main channel, braided channels, wooded riparian 
corridor, pools, chutes, sloughs, islands, sandbars, backwater areas, 
wetlands, natural floodplain and upland forest communities, 
pastureland, and croplands. This area also supports a wide variety of 
wildlife and fisheries resources similar to the Niobrara Confluence 
    The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 
outlines six priority public uses (hunting, fishing, wildlife 
observation, wildlife photography, and environmental education and 
interpretation) that are to be facilitated on national wildlife 
refuges, where compatible.
    The river reaches are components of the National Wild and Scenic 
River System as designated by Congress in 1978 and 1991 under the Wild 
and Scenic River Act (Pub. L. 90-542, as amended). The National Park 
Service is the river administering agency and is tasked to protect and 
enhance the outstandingly remarkable recreational, fish and wildlife, 
and scenic or similar values. The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act specifies 
that these river reaches shall be preserved in free-flowing condition 
and that their Outstandingly Remarkable Values shall be protected for 
the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
    Public feedback into the land protection planning process is 
essential to ensure that the FWS and NPS include society's input into 
the proposed project. FWS and NPS will request public review and 
comment throughout the planning process.


    The Missouri River basin encompasses 530,000 square miles--
approximately one-sixth of the continental United States. The main 
stem, stretching from Three Forks, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri, is 
the longest river in the United States, at more than 2,300 miles long. 
Historically, the Missouri River was a dynamic ecosystem, characterized 
by a changing interplay of open free-flowing, braided channel, sandbar, 
prairie, wetland, and forest habitats. Although manmade structures and 
activities have altered many of these natural processes, important 
habitats still remain, for a rich diversity of plants and animals. The 
dynamic nature of the Missouri River means that habitats change on a 
daily, seasonal, annual, and long-term basis. Erosive forces constantly 
transport sediment down the river, creating and modifying habitat and 
removing terrestrial vegetation from some areas while creating suitable 
conditions for new plants to grow in other areas. Seasonal river flow 
patterns flood river-bottom wetlands and maintain chutes, backwaters, 
and lakes in the floodplain that provide important wildlife breeding 
and foraging habitat. The combination of open water, floodplain 
wetlands, and river vegetation is particularly important for the large 
number of migratory birds that use the Missouri River during spring and 
fall migrations.
    Despite significant alterations of impoundment and stabilization, 
portions of the Missouri River have shown resiliency, exhibiting 
numerous historical characteristics witnessed by Lewis and Clark during 
their explorations in the early 1800s. The FWS and NPS will work with 
local communities and willing landowners to conserve significant 
stretches of the Missouri River. The opportunity to preserve and 
potentially improve important processes and habitats for fish and 
wildlife will provide benefits to visitors, neighbors, and local 
communities of these areas now and into the future. The project 
proposal is designed to improve conditions within the channel migration 
zone, retaining those habitat characteristics important to federally 
managed species such as pallid sturgeon, least tern, and piping plover, 
while potentially mitigating flooding impacts in the future. In 
addition, the project proposal is also designed to enhance recreation 
opportunities such as boating, fishing, hunting, and camping, while 
increasing scenic values along the river and protecting cultural 

Public Availability of Comments

    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your

[[Page 8894]]

comment, you should be aware that your entire comment, including your 
personal identifying information, may be made publicly available at any 
time. While you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal 
identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we 
will be able to do so.


    The FWS and NPS are furnishing this notice in compliance with the 
National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act of 1966 (16 U.S.C. 
668dd-668ee) (Administration Act), as amended by the National Wildlife 
Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997; the National Park Service 
Organic Act of 1916, as amended; and the National Environmental Policy 
Act (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and its implementing regulations.

    Dated: December 2, 2011.
Matt Hogan,
Acting, Deputy Regional Director, Mountain-Prairie Region, U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service.
    Dated: December 20, 2011.
Michael T. Reynolds,
Regional Director, NPS, Midwest Region.
[FR Doc. 2012-3491 Filed 2-14-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-55-P; 4312-51-P